Monday, June 7, 2010

One Black Woman's Reason for being Single...

Good early morning! I found myself tossing and turning tonight, so I decided to write in an effort to put some of these wandering thoughts out of my head. Many curious thoughts have traipsed through my mind over the course of the last few days. Most of them began and ended in the same place-the relationship between black men and black women. For the last few months, all of the mainstream media outlets have been bombarding us with story after story of why black women aren't getting married, and why so many more black men are marrying outside the race. Clearly, there is nothing else going on in the world, so the media feels that they can solve a problem that has been many generations in the making. The facts have been presented and re-presented. Yeah, we get it; there are more black women than available black men. We got it; 1 in 5 black men have decided to marry outside the race in 2008. Yes, we heard that; according to Joint Center DataBank, between 1950 and 2000, the percentage of never-married black women doubled, from 20.7% to 42.4%.

Yada-Yada-Yada, blah-blah-blah...I got it. As an African-American woman, I should be crying, disheartened, and broken, because at age 35, I am still single. I should be depressed that there are girls my age working on their second and even third marriage, while I've yet to walk down the aisle. I should be ashamed that my womb remains barren, while many of my classmates have children who are now in Jr. and Sr. high school. I should? Well, I'm not. I'm not bitter either. I simply don't care.

Would I like to be married? Sure, I would. Who wouldn't want a lifetime companion? Who wouldn't want someone with whom to share similar interests? Yet, I am not going to get down about it. I'm not going to belittle myself, and I'm not going to feel as if I'm less than a person because I don't. What I am going to do is make a relationship with the one person I'll never be without-me. That's right, I'm married to me. Let explain. I started making observations about life as early as junior high school. All the girls around me were flirting with boys and already starting to have "issues." Some would even ask me for advice, which I though was hilarious, because 1) I hadn't been in a relationship and 2) I still pretty much thought boys were gross. Let's face it, they were. Most of the boys at my Jr. High had this odd smell especially after recess, and the last thing I wanted was to touch much less kiss one.

When I started high school, I was busy trying to figure out how I was going to pay for college, because my parents had clearly not made a plan for that possibility. So, while most girls were flirting, I was in the library researching entrance requirements, ACT scores, and grants. Needless to say, I was firmly established in the following categories-ghost, band geek, and uber-nerd. I was okay with that. People had long since stopped inviting me to parties, because I wouldn't go. Slumber parties didn't interest me, because I wasn't interested in those asinine conversations. I had a goal, and those things were not going to help me achieve it. So, I gained a reputation of being stuck-up. Maybe I was, but as I looked around me several of the girls I graduated with already had one, some two, and one with 3 children by the time I graduated. One walked across the stage pregnant. That was not going to get me into college. I only went to my Junior and Senior Prom, because my mother made me. I went to both dateless. Mostly because there was only one boy I was even remotely interested in, and he was taking a friend of mine. I also only had two real dates during high school, both were with a first year law student who along with me were accompanying our younger siblings. We had great conversations, but neither was really interested in the other.

After graduation, I went to college. I had my first real boyfriend, who turned out not to be "my" boyfriend, but one of my classmates boyfriends. For 3 months, he dated me behind her back. I found out; I dumped him. Around the same time, I actually begin to fall in love for the first time. It was with my lab partner. Because the band geeks have to show up on campus at the same time as the football team, we meet during our respective camps. We were both stunned to learn we were actually from the same city. We would watch sports together in the rec hall, tell each other bawdy jokes, make sarcastic observations (my favorite), and generally hang out. We had similar tastes in music and literature, but I soon realized that that was all I was to him-his buddy. I might as well had been one of his teammates on the football team. You know, the standby girl. I realized this because we didn't keep up with each other off campus. We were from two different worlds. Any who, he was interested in a friend of mine (I don't recall if it worked out or not, nor did I really care). I then went out twice with a football player from the University of Iowa. He was the cousin of one of my high school friends. I thought we had something for a while. He would call me once or twice a week once we went back to school. Then I found out why? He and his teammates (who were on the line during all the calls I found out) were simply interested in listening to my Southern accent. I never called him back, nor would I accept his calls.

I was set up on a blind date with this other guy, who apparently had more arms than an octopus. I wasn't feeling well when the date started, and after a bad batch of chili cheese fries, I REALLY wasn't feeling well. I didn't kiss on the first date, and I told this dude this. I definitely avoid kissing people who have had a few beers. Mostly, because the smell of it makes me nauseated, which I had mentioned to him before he downed 3. He didn't get it, but soon he did. After telling him no, I don't feel well, he still tried to kiss me. Stale beer, meet bad fries, meet me spewing on him...He deserved it. If a woman says no, she usually has a good reason.

The remainder of my college career was a series of bad blind dates. By my senior year, I was begging mercy of my friends just to stop. For God's sake, stop! You clearly don't get me...I graduated and started to work. My mom could not understand why I didn't want to go out. Well, I told her I commute 32 miles round trip, come home to grade papers, get up commute again, try not to get beat up by my students who are only 3-6 years younger than me (My first year I taught a 19 year old 11th grader), yeah, I don't feel like Saturday night.

Two years teaching junior high school and the sudden (although not entirely unexpected) death of my absentee father left me burned out. Mentally and physically. I had to take a year off, and I didn't think I would ever teach again. Teaching was something that I had been wanting to do (against my mom's wishes) since the 4th grade. After a year, I realized why I couldn't handle my first three years in public school. I have ADD. Redundancy is not something that is conducive to my personality. I took a job with a parochial school. Twice the work. I taught three different curriculum. It was perfect. Sure, I was tired. Sure, I didn't want to date, because I was also taking classes off and on.

In 2003, I was diagnosed with depression. No, not because I hadn't had a date since 1996. In December of 2002, one of my favorite students was killed during a hunting accident. In April of 2003, my little cousin, who was more like my son than cousin, drowned after he went to live with his mother. In June, two of my former students were in a car crash. One of them died (I had just talked and laughed with her two weeks before); the other was severely injured. The driver who was drunk also died in the crash. In November of that same year, my beloved grandmother, who raised me and was my best friend, practically died in my arms. I kept chugging on...until one day it dawned on me that something was really wrong. Now, my students had often joked that I was OCD, and I had joked with them. Only this particular morning, I recognized it. I was counting steps, I was counting door touches, I was making rituals not even realizing it. I went to may doctor who after several visits realized that I had always suffered from depression and that my OCD was my subconscious way of dealing with it. With his help, I realized that it had gone back to my 1st grade year, I was dealing with my parents divorce and the death of my best friend in a hit and run. At 29, I was realizing why I was the way I was. Why I was an introvert, why I didn't like social situations, and why dating had always been an issue. At 29. So, I started doing things I wouldn't normally do. I started getting out more (I still don't much). During a class meeting, I sang the bars of a song that my students were trying to choose for graduation. That May, for the first time in my life, I sang in public in from of about 400 people with my knees knocking and my knuckles turning white as I gripped the podium. I've done it several times since then. The fear never goes away.

I have continued seeing my doctor. I tell you what. I have had to come to terms with me. It hasn't always been easy. There are lots of things that I still don't like about myself. I have a short fuse, I have very little patience, I'm very cynical, and I am working on those. I am fixing me for me. A couple of weeks ago, I decided I was going to pamper myself. I had a mani/pedi, and I cut all most of my hair into a sassy summer doo. I also decided that I was going to get myself into shape. The first question, who's the guy? Not just from my co-workers, but from my students. I said, me. I'm doing it for me. Until I have myself in a place where I am completely comfortable with me, how am I going to find the right person to tolerate me? It is going to take a special man who can put up with me. I'm a lot to handle. I'm not going to settle for any random dude.

Will I ever get married? Who knows, and at this point in my life, who cares? Life is too short to dwell over things I have little control over. If I find Mr. Right, great, if not, I am continuing to fix my marriage with me. Ladies, if you haven't found Mr. Right. Don't settle for Mr. Right Now. Find yourself. Like Robert Brault said,

"If you search the world for happiness, you may find it in the end, for the world is round and will lead you back to your door." Find happiness within be at peace with yourself, and the love you are looking for will eventually find you. I truly believe that.

My next post will be about some aspect of sports...hopefully...

1 comment:

  1. That was a great post, Cheryl. It was very brave of you to pour your heart out into the blog and admit to having depression and to bring up all of the traumatic moments in your life. You have to live life for yourself, not for your friends, family or any man.